Last Wednesday I went down to Target and purchased the box set every Nirvana fan has been waiting for. With The Lights Out cronicoles the entire career of Nirvana, right from a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Heartbreaker during their first concert to a boombox recording of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” when it was first written to an acoustic demo of “Do Re Mi” which was one of the last recorded songs for Nirvana before Kurt tied.
I have been a Nirvana fan since shortly after Kurt died in 1994 during 7th grade. The reason I wasn’t a fan earlier was simply due to my age, I was too young when Nirvana was taking over the music world. Nevermind and Unplugged in New York were actually the first two albums I ever purchased and I use those copies.
Over the years, I purchased every Nirvana album I could find. My brother Justin and I even at one point got into collecting Nirvana bootlegs, via cassette taps and even MP3’s right before they exploded online. It was fun collecting the bootlegs of songs we never heard before or different versions of songs we grew up listening to.
With The Lights Out brings tons of stuff into a nice little package. 3 CD’s worth of material and a DVD featuring footage lots of early footage of the band before they hit the big time and some from when they just hit the big time.
Without further ado, my review of the box set:
Clearly the first two out of three CD’s in the set have the gems here. Lots of early recordings, from their first live show, to early radio performances in 1987, to early demos, to some live performances. Great job and some gems in here for certain.
From CD one, my favorites include: Anorexorcist, Mrs. Butterworth, If You Must, Pen Cap Chew, Floyd The Barber, Dive, They Hung Him On A Cross, Ain’t It A Shame, and Even In His Youth. If I had to pick a song from that group, probably “Ain’t It A Shame” is the pick. What an amazing cover of a Ledbelly song. Pretty funny hearing Kurt do a blues song punked up big time and he pulls it off convincingly. “It ain’t it a shame to go fishing on sunday when you monday, tuesday, wednesday, or thursday, friday, saturday, ain’t it a shame!”
CD two gets very interesting. Favorits include from 1990 “Opinion,” some early acoustic demos of “Lithium,” “Been A Son,” “Sliver,” and a song that became famous four years later, “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.” Kind of interesting that the famous painful closing to that song that Kurt end up doing 4 years later is nowhere to be found in this version, which makes me wonder even more if that closing was more spontaneous and magical then ever. What a wonderful cover of “Here She Comes Now” and “D-7” on this CD as well. The performances of “Verse Chorus Verse,” “Endless, Nameless”, “Oh The Guilt”, and “Curmudgeon” are pretty great as well. My favorite song has to be two songs this time: “Here She Comes Now” and “Oh The Guilt.”
CD three quite frankly wasn’t that good. Rather sad really. I really thought there would be more newer material from this era on here. But there are some gems in here. The early performanes of “Rape Me” were very interesting to hear, especially how far the song evolved. The jam that became “Scentless Apprentice” was amazing. It begins with Dave Grohl actually showing Kurt how to play the main riff and then turns into a massive jam as the entire song structure pretty much came together in 9 minutes. Amazing.
Other gems on CD three include: a new version of “I Hate Myself And I Want To Die,” “Marigold” (Dave’s lead singing debut with Nirvana, shows how far he came from then to the Foo Fighters), and “Do Re Mi,” which pretty much is the last ever Nirvana song and shows the future direction the band was going to take.
To me though, the DVD was priceless. The first 9 songs come from a rehearsal in 1988 at Krist’s house, covering everything from “Love Buzz”, the first Nirvana song “Spank Thru”, a great cover of “Immigrant Sog, and more. Then it cuts out to several tour videos, a copy of the Sub Pop music video for “In Bloom,” and one of the best performances I have seen by Nirvana, the beautiful electric version of “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me For A Sunbeam” live. I quite honestly think this should have been released as a music video for this album…it would have gotten a lot of airplay.
Finally, the beautiful “Seasons of the Sun” to close out the DVD. It features Kurt on the drums plus singing, Dave on bass, and Krist on guitar. You can see the entire band smiling and having fun, jamming together. Shows how musically diverse the band was and really how talented they all were. Really beautifully done and so sad considering how things turned out.
This is a must have for any Nirvana fan. Buy this box set today, really.